In the United States, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Find out what to look for when examining your skin so you can detect skin cancer early, when it’s the easiest to treat.
The Importance of Examining Your Skin
Regularly examining your skin is one of the most important things you can do to detect skin cancer early. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends examining your skin from head-to-toe once a month. This is especially important if you have a history of cancer or if you’ve had frequent sunburns or regularly tan. When checking your skin, the goal is to become familiar with the pattern of moles or freckles you have. Doing this will make it easier to notice any changes in your skin.
Examine your skin in a well-lit room and in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to get a closer look at hard-to-see areas. A partner or close family member can help you examine areas that are difficult to closely observe, such as your scalp and back.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?
Skin cancer can appear on the body in numerous ways, and not all types of skin cancers look the same. Symptoms of skin cancer include a sore that doesn’t heal, any change in a mole or spot on your skin, a scaly patch, or a dome-shaped growth. If you notice any abnormal or suspicious marks on your skin, or if you have any spots or marks that bleed, itch, scab, or hurt, contact a doctor or dermatologist right away to make an appointment.
Melanoma is considered the deadliest type of skin cancer. To help you easily recognize the common warning signs of melanoma, use the ABCDE rules when examining your skin:
Is one half of the spot or mole an irregular shape that doesn’t match the other half?
Take a look at the border of the spot or mole. Is the border uneven or jagged? Healthy moles appear smooth with an even border.
Normal moles and spots on the skin are usually brown in color, but melanoma can appear as a variety of colors, such as black, tan, white, blue, or red.
If the mole or spot on your skin is larger than a pea or pencil eraser, you should have it examined by a dermatologist.
A spot on your skin that looks different from the rest, including changes in shape, feel, size, and color, is a warning sign of melanoma.
Schedule a Consultation
If you notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary when examining your skin, contact us right away at Farmington Dermatologists to make an appointment. Dr. Baird will carefully examine your skin and provide you with an accurate diagnosis.